The Sword of Swords (1968) Review: The Awakening of A Reluctant Hero

The world of martials arts is nothing more than a world of politics. The one who has the most power has the most control over his fortune and the most freedom to live as he pleases (i.e. a king’s lifestyle). Doesn’t it sound enticing? But with great power comes with great responsibility. Those who seek power for personal gain is not fit to rule. In this tale, a meek hero is hesitant to get involved in the world of martial arts until his family and his country is on the line.

To give you folks a backstory of this legendary sword, I quote the introduction from the film for you to better understand the story:

During the Sung Dynasty, about 1000 B.C., a famed sword smith Meng Yao Chi took ten years to forge a sword from the best metal available. When China was invaded by neighboring Liao state, Meng presented his sword to General Meng Liang. With it, the General won battle after battle and the sword became a legend. After General Meng’s Death, the sword was lost until rediscovered in the Ming Dynasty. The prince of a nearby barbarian tribe coveted the sword and dispatched a trusted warrior to acquire it. This is the story of this mission.

Based on the quote, the sword sounds pretty epic, doesn’t it? I don’t think I would want the sword even if I was fit to rule the martial arts world. It’s too much stress and responsibility. So I can sympathize with the hero in this film who learned martial arts to hunt and nothing more. However, our destiny is not always decided by us. The hero, not only has the mental capability but also the physical strength to be the keeper of the legendary sword. After all, those who yield the sword has the power to control the land for good or evil. It sounds kind of like Lord of the Rings, Chinese version the more I think about it, but not as dark.

What surprised me about this story is how passive and meek the main character is. I have never seen a highly skilled martial artist who is unreasonably meek. His saint-like personality is his downfall. It is because of his reluctance to kill the main villain when he had the chance caused him a spiral of tragic events. As the audience, I can’t helped but be a little annoyed by his passiveness, but then again, there wouldn’t be a story if he weren’t a reluctant hero. He eventually learned from his mistake and become emotionally stronger towards the end, but at the expense of losing his parents, sister and his two eyes! It made me wonder whether the film was trying to tell ordinary men to step up and be more assertive. I think there are a lot of men out there like him–fully capable and strong to make a difference but choose not to meddle with politics until he is backed into a corner. On a positive note, what I like about this film is that the hero’s weakness becomes his strength. The hero always find a way to win in the end magically, which makes me feel happy. After all, I am always rooting for the good guy to win.

For my final thoughts, this film is decent but not great. I like The One-Armed Swordsman (1967) more which was played by the same main actor, Jimmy Wang Yu. One plus thing about this film is the cinematography and swords fight. It’s beautifully well done. So if you are a fan of martial arts films, it’s still worth watching.

Ninja Scroll(1993)Review: A Love Story for Humanity

Don’t underestimate the power of good illustration. Like a prey, people like me get trapped by its web all the time. That’s what happened to me with Ninja Scroll. I jumped into this film without knowing anything about it. I just saw the cover and I thought it looked cool. And I was not wrong. The illustration is stunningly beautiful despite the gore, sex and violence which enhanced the overall viewing experience. I was in awe or perhaps, after seeing so many subpar animations, it’s nice to finally see the real deal. Then again, I like the films directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, which I later found out after watching this film that the same director did Demon City Shinjuku (1988). I noticed his style. It’s alluring. Ninja Scroll is how I would define a romance story. The relationship between the poison taster Kagero (female lead) and the wandering ninja Kibagami Jubei (male lead), illustrates a romantic union for human survival.

Right off the bat, the film started off really cool where Jubei, a very skilled swordsman, got attacked by thieves. It’s later, we learn that Jubei was hired by a clan for 20 ryo to get a highly treasured sword back for a poor clan. How many people do you know would accept a modest compensation for a big task? Only a big-heart hero like Jubei would. Instantly, I was wooed.

On the other hand, Kagero’s entrance came on strong as well. In fact, highly admirable. The way how the scene introduces her barging into a room of ninjas, instantly won me over. She refuses to stay behind and watch all of the clan members get wiped out by the Shogun of Dark clan. Hot-headed and as fearless as she is, makes her an entertaining character to watch alongside with the more relaxed, hobo-ish ninja, Jubei.

Of course, it is probably not intended to be a romance story, or perhaps it’s a subtle romance story about humanity striving to survive the corrupted world filled with demons (I am thinking abstractly here). Your experience with the film may differ from mine. But I think we can agree that the animation in this film is top-notch. Some of the scenes, however, involving women, can be gruesomely graphic (rape scenes). It may make some uncomfortable, but it didn’t offend me because it serves a purpose by illustrating how politically corrupted the world is in that time era. And honestly, I kind of like that over the top exaggerated storytelling. It’s art. To be fair, both men and women in this film are both sexualized and both are just as equally strong while having their own unique vulnerabilities. It is nice to see the masculine and feminine energy at play, metaphorically speaking.

In conclusion, I have never experienced love to know what romance is until I watched this film. I protect you; you protect me. Isn’t that how relationship should be? Kagero and Jubei made a great team. This film is my definition of what makes a romantic love story.

Call Me (1988) Review: “I like your flaw”

I think Amazon Prime Video is having a blast with me, or I am just paranoid. They sure like to recommend me strange films that make my eyebrow raise. But I am glad they recommended it to me. I got hooked to this film because I found the real life Albert Wesker from Resident Evil series played by the actor Stephen McHattie. Just google him or watch the film and you can see the strong resemblance. He’s the classic alluring bad boy that woman like Anna, the protoganist just can’t resist: “Keep calling! I love your sexy voice, but you are kinda scary. So stop calling me!”

Taking a trip back to the 80s might not be so bad actually. It’s better than 2020–bombarded with options and there’s no real mystery to what people are thinking. Back then caller ID did not exist so you can’t tell who is on the other line. I remember very well when I first received my first sexual harassment call which was in the 90s. I was so angry! The memory is forever embedded in me. I still recall the conversation, it went like this:

Me: Hello?

Strange Man: Hello, are your parents there?

Me: No.

Strange Man: Can I talk to you?

Me: Okay.

Strange Man: How old are you?

Me: 10 years old.

Strange Man: Do you wear bra?

Me: No… Excuse me!?

I Slam the phone *click!*

For a kid, it’s really scary that a pedophile would talk to a child like that. But for this film, the context is appropriate since it involves full grown adults. So you can laugh at the situation. Desperate Anna just want some affection from her career-oriented boyfriend. So when she received a mysterious phone call from a sexy voice man, she mistook him for her boyfriend, and out of desperation for TLC, she followed his instruction to wait for him at the Polish Bar, wearing something nice but without panties! It’s a comical thriller with a twist. I laughed so hard.

This show will be removed from prime on Nov. 30th. If you want to hear cheesy pick up lines, I recommend this film. Nodaway, it’s more appropriate to say “Swipe me if you are feeling lonely.” As for me, I rather stick with my blog. I don’t want the virus nor do I want to spread it! No pun intended, haha! On a serious note though, I enjoy fishing for metaphors.

P.S

Sending virtual kisses to all the lonely folks from my kitchen, love Halsdoll~

The Garden of Words Review: More Green Is Good for You

My attention span is pretty short these days. Whenever I look for something to watch, I scan for something that is short. This one is 45 minutes. Short enough where I don’t become restless. Perhaps this is why I can’t stand watching long films like Lord of the Rings in movie theater.

The visual in this anime is beautiful. Raindrops falling from the grey sky and a lot of green. I love green because I love trees. As for the story it strikes a chord that many people can relate to. Not everyone do what they enjoy for a living and some people have very specific dreams. In this case, the male protagonist wants to make a career making women shoes. I found his passion for shoes to be quite admirable; in fact strangely noble. The female protagonist, on the other hand, who happens to be a school teacher, is not passionate about teaching, and therefore is detached from living a full life. Personally, I can relate to the female teacher. I’ve been in that route where I was once dead for a long time until had to get away from everyone and everything to breathe.

Like After the Rain, it’s about realizing one’s dream. It’s about learning how to breathe, literally. Is it a romance story between a young man and older woman. The age differences might make some western audience feel uncomfortable, but it didn’t bother me because sometimes emotions are just not black and white, and age is just a factor in life.

Now I want to go walk in the garden in the rain. It’s peaceful and quiet. Not many people are out under grey clouds, and in that moment of quietness you might actually hear yourself breathing.

Female Prisoner Jailhouse 41 (1972) Review: Bad Boys Are Dogs!

I am addicted to laughing. I might have just found one of the funniest film I have ever watched. A big fan of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction here, but this one tops it.  Don’t get mad now. I am not a man-hater but the portrayal of men in this film is a bit accurate; they are kind of like wild dogs when they are not domesticated.  But the women in this film are just as bad. In fact, they are as brutal as the men—even more so, I would say. I had a good laugh seeing both genders behaving like animals, battling against each other. The scenes are so shockingly grotesque that I watched it three times in a row! I am just that shocked!

The stunningly beautiful main character Scorpion, played by Meiko Kaji, is the most dangerous prisoner. Get too close and she will bite. The police had to lock her in the underground facility where insects resided. For a year, she was in insolation.  Until one day, the head of the policemen got promoted and decided to treat her like a human and invited her to celebrate with him along with other female prisoners. His sadistic way of taming the female prisoners into good girls led him to promotion. How ironic is that? But this is where the fun starts. It’s time for the girls to break out of jail and put those bad boys back in their place!

I won’t go into details about the plot because I just don’t want to spoil for folks who have not seen it. Apart from the plot, the cinematography is superb. As I mentioned before, I watched it 3 times, well 4 times now. It is so well done and the dialogues were well thought out that if I ever feel the need to laugh, I will just watch this film. It’s that good.  

Great Story-Driven Horror Games for Halloween

I’ll be honest, I am not much of a routine type of gal. It drives me nuts, but they say– a good blogger must be consistent, so here I am again with my three list of recommendations. Why three you may wonder? Because “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Two can be as bad as one. It’s the loneliest number since the number one” I quote the classic song to whom I don’t know who the artist is haha (let me know if you know!) Yeah, I like three because it’s not lonely! So three it is!

Since I am number one in my universe (I have no one to love so I love myself), the first game on my list I introduce to you folks today is Cat Lady.

The Cat Lady - Wikipedia

If you never heard anything about this game, you would think about a lone suicidal woman who lives by herself (ouch that hurts! I am single, but not suicidal). Well technically there is some partial truth to it, but it’s more of a comedy than horror. Sometimes I get horror mixed up with comedy. Let’s just say I have a morbid sense of humor, it can’t be help! The game is well thought out, poetic, and flows really well. I bought it on Steam for $1.99. Currently it is $9.99. Wait for it to go on sale, it sure beats a cup of coffee at Starbucks any time! If you are suffering from depression, it will make you come out stronger. I love the message.

Now number 2 goes to Detention!

Detention on Steam

This is one is from Redcandlegames, a Taiwanese developer. If you like Silent Hill 2 sort atmosphere then this is the game–even though it’s point and click. The illustration is very nice and the monster are scary and cute. One thing I liked about this game is how realistic the protagonist is as a female character. She is realistically feminine and therefore, relatable. Should check it out if you haven’t already.

Now final but not least! Death Mark!

upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/4/43/Sp...

This is a visual novel game which I really enjoyed. The soundtrack and the illustration is pretty good. It’s really like reading a horror novel. It is suspenseful and the story is intriguing enough to keep me on my toes. I love it so much I played the sequel: Spirit Hunter NG. Rest assure, if you are the type who gets scared easily, it will not make you pee in your pants or die from shock like we see in House on Haunted Hill (1999). I am referring to the amusement park scene. In my opinion, Japanese are a master at telling horror stories. That’s why I am so addicted to the genre. If you are more curious about this game click on the title above for my review.

Well that is it for now. I thought I would introduce myself in anime style! Hi and bye bye for now!

Pretty Girls Are Scary :Three Psychotic Films I Watched

Did you think I was done with Halloween? There are more scary stuff to talk about. I am just getting started. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what Amazon is trying to tell me from my browsing habit. They recommended me some suspenseful shows. I hope they are not trying to imply I am CRAE-CRAE.

Here are the top three psychotic films I watched and enjoyed.

He Loves Me He Loves Me Not

People like my parents say that artists are kind of crazy so when I was in my teen years, my parents discouraged me from pursuing the creative field even though I am a natural when it comes to art. It comes as easy as breathing. The problem with creativity is that your mind never shut and you start to make things up and tell elaborated lies to point it seems very real. In this case, what is more scary than a girl who believes she is in a relationship with a man she barely knew. He Loves Me He Loves Me Not is a fun film to watch and a little disturbing.

Next…

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

The undertone of this film is very sexual. You got three different ice cream flavors: vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. I am referring to hair color by the way. Hmm.. Napoleon ice cream sounds rather delicious in fact. When I was a kid I want all flavors. Is that how boys feel about girls? Anyway, this film is pretty intense. A woman’s grudge runs deep so you better not try to make enemies because women never forget, especially the beautiful blonde ones. Better not let her in the house no matter how seductive she is. She will destroy you!!!

Final…

Beautiful Vampire

Well I wouldn’t call this one psychotic, but I know a lot of people raise their eyebrow when a beautiful woman chooses to remain single and not have children. People may think she is a vampire, a witch, a demon who knows! There is definitely something wrong with her because she should be married by now! The film is quite comforting and humorous. Maybe it’s because I find the protagonist relatable. Life can get pretty lonely sometimes even for a Beautiful Vampire.

There you have it. I hope you enjoy this Pretty Girls are Scary Edition. Hopefully you found something interesting on this list to watch. I try not to reveal too much about the films because it’s more fun to jump into something without knowing and I am a bit of a list maker so I enjoy doing these posts. Until next time, bye bye.

Psycho-Pass Season 1 Review: Beware of the Rational Pyscho

Disclaimer: Minor spoiler alert. Please watch show before reading.

Throughout history, I think humans have a deep-rooted fear of losing one sense of self. They are always searching for the ideal society where everyone can live in harmony. But what if this perfect society is run by an old asymptomatic, crazy pink hair lady or worse, a robot that is made of collected data of criminal thoughts? In this anime’s universe, a device in the shape of a gun called the denominator will measure whether we are a threat to the society. It’s kind of scary actually, don’t you think? Literally, with a point of a gun, our sanity is diagnosed. Not only that but where we score in mental health will determine where we will be placed in the society. Pretty much, everyone’s fate has been decided because we are all pawns for a “safe functioning society.” Quite frankly, the society sounds like an authoritarian robot gone crazy, waving its gun at people in the name of harmony. In all reality, it’s just a form of dictatorship.

If you think about this show, there is nothing new about it. Good and evil is at play like it has always been throughout centuries. Purity is what will save humanity from destruction. That’s where Akane Tsunemori, the naïve, pure maiden come to play. In western culture passive traits are seen as a weakness. In Japan, ironically the female kind is highly praise for its feminine virtues: kindness and sympathy are forms of strength that glue the society together. People protect the laws not laws protect the people, said Akane. That’s why she doesn’t deviate from the rules despite all the horror she has seen on the job as an inspector, which makes her a powerful stern leader. In case you are not familiar with the plot, Akane goes around making sure detectives don’t abuse their power while they are hunting for criminals (I don’t think I want her job, putting people on the leash sounds tiring. I’ll stick with my boring desk job so I can reserve my energy for blogging). Like every one of us, she eventually wises up and realizes that society is not always black and white. Sometimes our superiors don’t always have our best interests. She found out the hard way.

For my final thought about this series, sometimes when you try to play god, you’d eventually go mad. No human being is omniscience. In the end, it’s the smart guy who wants to destroy the world out of spite for the prisoned-society that humans have created for themselves. I think I understand now why the series is called Psycho-Pass: the villain is rationally psychotic enough to know what he is doing. He simply chose the self destructive path, and he is going to take everyone down with him.